We've got the answer for that seasonal stress! With help from the Taste of Home Cooking School and a little planning, you can maintain your composure and ring in the New Year with fond memories of a merry holiday season. Presented by the Chronicle Times, Taste of Home is bringing the "Homemade for the Holidays" Cooking School to Cherokee Washington High School Gymnasium on Tuesday, Nov. 11, with a selection of recipes and entertaining tips that will relieve your entertaining jitters.
Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11. Tickets are available at the Chronicle Times, Hy-Vee Food Store, and via a coupon published in the Chronicle Times.
"The key to successful entertaining is to simplify," advises Culinary Specialist Mary Janice Reisdorf. "Decide what's most important to your holiday party. For some the focus will be presentation, food and party gifts, while others will concentrate on music, activities and décor. Don't get caught up in every little detail. Will the party bomb if you use fake logs and not real wood in the fireplace? Probably not, but a hassled, harried host or hostess will certainly take the glow out of holiday festivities," continues Reisdorf.
Make a list and check it twice. Start with a list of guests and note any dietary needs. You don't have to cater to everyone's likes and dislikes, but a considerate host will inquire about food allergies and dietary restrictions. Plan your menu. Are you hosting a traditional sit-down dinner, a casual buffet or a potluck-style celebration? Remember you don't have to go it alone when it comes to food preparation. If guests ask what they can bring, suggest a dish from your menu that you think they would enjoy making.
Set a festive table. The holidays are a great time to break out the good china. If you are hosting a larger party, mix and match your dishes. Use some china from your grandma, some of yours and some you may have found at a garage sale. Cover the table with a flat sheet. Bedding comes in an array of colors, stripes and patterns. You're sure to find a design that will deck your table with holiday cheer. Keep your centerpiece simple. Create a grouping of seasonal fruit and pine boughs placed in a few decorative bowls.
Start a new tradition. After the meal go around the neighborhood caroling. If you are exchanging gifts, play guess what's inside the box and offer the recipient funny clues about the present. Prepare a wish book using a pretty blank journal and ask everyone to add their hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Share the thoughts with everyone at the end of the evening.
Mary Janice Reisdorf will share more holiday tips and suggestions during her "Homemade for the Holidays" presentation. Tickets will go on sale Friday, Oct. 10. Check out the Taste of Home Web site at "www.tasteofhome.com, and click on 'Cooking Schools' for the complete fall 2008 show schedule, with information on ticket prices and outlets. You will also find great gift ideas at Shop Taste of Home. Why not purchase the Taste of Home Cookbook, Baking Book or Award Winning Recipes Cookbook as a special gift that will be used for years to come.